This SPEC Kit examines the current use of e-books in ARL member libraries; their plans for implementing, increasing, or decreasing access to e-books; purchasing, cataloging, and collection management issues; and issues in marketing to and in usage by library clientele.
By the May deadline, responses had been submitted by 75 of the 123 ARL member libraries for a response rate of 61%. Of the responding libraries, 73 (97%) reported including e-books in their collections. According to survey responses, most institutions entered the e-book arena as part of a consortium which purchased an e-book package. The earliest forays occurred in the 1990s but the majority of libraries started e-book collections between 1999 and 2004. Purchasing at the collection level allowed libraries to acquire a mass of titles with a common interface, reducing some of the transition pains to the new format. The downside of collections is that libraries find they are often saddled with titles they would not have selected in print; also, each collection might have a different interface, adding to user frustration.
This SPEC Kit includes documentation from respondents in the form of collection development policies, e-book collection Web pages, e-book promotional materials, training materials for staff and users, and e-book reader loan policies.